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Environmental tribunal hears closing arguments

Months of discussion around the proposed Cedar Point wind project near Plympton-Wyoming came a step closer to a conclusion last week, when the province’s Environment Review Tribunal heard closing arguments.

Spectators filled the council chambers at the Lambton County administrative offices on Thursday as lawyers laid out their final arguments.

As both sides wait for a decision, Lambton County Warden Bev MacDougall said she’s proud of the stand the county has taken on the issue.

“I’m very proud of Lambton County, that we stood up and joined in a voice to plead with big companies and the Ontario government to recognize all sides of the wind turbine issue,” she said.

The challenge has been a message for provincial government, she said.

“I think it’s an important stand that Lambton stood up and took in the face of the Green Energy Act and a process that excluded municipal participation… This if nothing else is an example and a lesson to the provincial government about what happens when you exclude people from a process.”

In an emailed statement from Suncor, spokesperson Jason Vaillant said the company respects the rights of appellants to address their concerns.

“Suncor cooperated fully throughout the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) process. It is a comprehensive process and Suncor has been committed to being an active participant throughout the past few months,” read the statement.

“We respect the rights of the appellants to raise their concerns through the ERT process and we are confident that we were able to respond to those concerns during the proceedings. Suncor will respect the decision of the Tribunal and we are waiting to hear the outcome of this process.”

The debate has been a divisive one in the region, with supporters advocating for both sides of the wind debate.

“I don’t like it when I hear of families that can no longer sit and dine together,” because they come down on opposite sides of the discussion, said MacDougall.

“Nothing in Ontario should ever pull a family apart in that way.”

She pointed out how attitudes toward the issue have changed since the projects across the province were first announced.

“In the beginning it was all very one sided. We are all hip and you know, keen about green, green, green everything,” she said. “But there’s so many factors in all of this.”

Previously reported time lines indicate that a decision could come in early March.